Little Jimi, The Cantos (Mrs Red Sound 2021)

French psychedelic trio releases their sophomore album, The Cantos.

The band – Benjamin Monnereau (guitar, vocals), Guillaume Arancibia (guitar), and Antoine Le Gall (drums) – began in 2017, issuing their first recordings. A full-length album followed the next year, and now there is The Cantos. The music is rock, and to me it sounds heavy and inspired by stoner, progressive, and heavy psych bands. The early rock influences stretching back into the 1960s and 1970s are in there functioning as the bedrock to the band’s sound. Another way to think of it is that these elemental characteristics are the launching point for the music Little Jimi creates.

There are six longish tracks on the new album. “First Cantos” starts it all off, and it has an acoustic intro and an ethereal vocal bed that takes us into space in the first half, after which things turn heavier. The extended, fuzzy instrumental movement progresses into light doom before becoming buoyant in the final moments. “The Way” also opens gently, and it has more of a 1960s psychedelic feel. “Palace Afternoon” is a trip, a fuzzed out, dark Pink Floydian affair. It is a stunning, memorable piece.

Side two starts big on guitars, and even without a bass the heavy rhythm line is prominent at the beginning and the end on “Machetehew.” “Indian Rain” is the proggiest track while the closer, “Last Cantos XXIV,” has an uplifting feel to it. This music has a heaviness that I like but the compositions are transformed in concert with many other elements that act more like a conflux than a balancing. I am glad I listened. Recommended.

The digital album is out on Friday August 20th with the LP version to follow on September 17th through Mrs Red Sound and both versions can be had at Bandcamp.

Band photo by Christian Arnaud.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://littlejimi.bandcamp.com/album/the-cantos

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/LittleJimi.music/

Mrs Red Sound, https://mrsredsound.com/

Little Jimi, The Cantos (Mrs Red Sound 2021)

Acidemia, Podridão (Acid Swamp Records 2021)

The first full-length album from Brazilian Doom Metal trio Acidemia is Podridão.

Acidemia formed in Lages, Brazil, in 2015. According to the press release, the band member are Henrique Pereira Soares (bass, vocals), Mateus Varela (guitar), and Thiago Granetto (drums). They first put out an EP titled Extinction in 2018 and then a live album two years after that. The band’s inaugural long-player, Podridão, shows off their steady determined sound on the big stage.

The music is an integration of dead slow heavy doom with occasional and alternating dissonant elements that produces a unique sound. The opening track, “Névoas de Ácido,” seems at first to be a straight-forward doom set-up but before long it ambles off in an unexpected direction that preserves the dread while elevating the musical discourse.

The focus of the compositions is the rhythm framework and vocals, casting strong foundations before heading off unpredictably toward jagged cliffs and fields and valleys in the heavy music landscape. On “Mórbido,” for example, there is an extended section some might receive as jazz. On the title track, in between the crushingly heavy guitar riffs, there are some mad diversions. Surprises become the norm.

The closer is the twenty-one-plus minute endurance test, “Caximbo.” It might be my favorite track because there is so much going on in it. If does, after all, run the equivalent of a full album side. It shows off both the most ordinary and reliable aspects of Acidemia as well as the strangest ones. If you hear no other track, listen to “Caximbo,” but I think the better thing to do is take the entire set in at once. It is a rare find off the beaten path. Recommended.

Podridão is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is the easiest way to get it.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://acidemiaoficial.bandcamp.com/album/podrid-o

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AcidemiaOficial

Acidemia website, https://www.acidemia.com.br/

Acidemia, Podridão (Acid Swamp Records 2021)

Infex, Burning In Exile (2021)

Bay Area thrash band Infex release their third album, Burning In Exile.

Ten years or so ago Infex started to come together piece by piece. Firmly rooted in the original sin of thrash, the music embraces the concept of speed and the ideals of metal. The band’s first album, Circling the Drain, came out in 2012 and Killing for Jesus followed in 2016. That makes Burning In Exile the charmed one. The band is now Jack (guitar, vocals), Adam (guitar, vocals), RC bass, vocals), and Corey (drums).

Nine crackling tracks make up the set and they all bristle with surging energy. “Blood of the Wicked” is a charging assault delivered at pace with insistent vocals and rollicking percussion. The concentrated guitars on “The Burning” are a potent combination with the singable lyrics – this will be a big hit on tour. “Exiled” builds an impenetrable wall from which to hurl flaming metal missiles and “Acid Reign” is a molten killer, my favorite on the album.

The second side features songs that are a little more succinct and piercing, then wraps the music up with the longest song as the anchor, “7.62.” That final track starts with a dialogue snag from Full Metal Jacket and runs amok with odd-angle constructions and ripping leads. It is definitely a different vibe in this second half but the music is just as hard-edged, precise, and inventive as the opening four. Infex has put out a solid thrash album here. Recommended.

Burning In Exile is out today, Friday the 13th. You can check the band out on YouTube and pick up the album at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://infex.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Infexthrash/

Infex YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfs2Gp9MZaITOCuODKt2O9w

Infex, Burning In Exile (2021)

Turned To Stone Chapter III, Wizzerd vs. Merlin (Ripple Music 2021)

Ripple Music’s battle split series Turned To Stone throws down on Chapter Three with Wizzerd vs. Merlin.

The previous Turned To Stone splits are Chapter 1: Enter Galactic Wasteland by Mr Bison / Spacetrucker and Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa by Howling Giant / Sergeant Thunderhoof. These both came out in 2020 and they are magnificent musical pairings. As with Chapter 2, this new release has each band contributing a single song that runs a full side length.

From Kalispell, Montana, Wizzerd goes toward the fuzzy psychedelic realm with their entry, “We Are.” It starts out with forest creatures in the background and an acoustic guitar on its own. It is a slow build from there. Soon enough the electric fuzz kicks in and we are rolling. There are many movements, expansions, and explorations over the course of nineteen minutes. It is a beautiful and curious thing.

Merlin, from Kansas City, Missouri, has a more epic- and quest-like take on their side, “Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure.” I got a Grail lore feeling on the opening notes. The vocals are very mysterious and a little disturbing. This one is a trip, too, but of a whole different kind. There is a peppy jazzy break fairly early in the twenty-two minute run and it is an identity that returns. Toward the end the spooky comes back. Well done.

I love this split series because it either introduces me to bands I didn’t know before or gives me new music from bands I already follow. The synergy of the artistic twinning is icing on the cake. Recommended.

This one is out now. On the digital album, there is also a single edit of each song if you are short on time. Check out Ripple Music’s site or Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/turned-to-stone-chapter-iii-wizzerd-vs-merlin

Wizzerd Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/wizzerddoom

Wizzerd Bandcamp, https://wizzerd.bandcamp.com/

Merlin Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MERLIN666

Merlin Bandcamp, https://merlin666.bandcamp.com/

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Turned To Stone Chapter III, Wizzerd vs. Merlin (Ripple Music 2021)

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new album from Diskord is another challenging foray into the wilderness of heavy music.

If you are looking for the usual Death Metal band then Diskord is not for you. Their music comes at you from all sorts of angles, many of which you didn’t even know were there. Formed in Norway in 1999, their first full-length album was Doomscapes (2012), followed by Dystopics in 2012 and now the new one, Degenerations. The band is Hans Jørgen (vocals, drums), Dmitry (guitar, vocals), and Eyvind (bass, electric upright bass, cello, theremin, synth, vocals).

The album begins with two short pieces followed by three common-length songs and a sort of exit ramp for side one after that. The first notes are grating. This sound is joined by a drum roll and a bass line. The music starts to form into a Mothers Of Invention kind of arrangement, then darts off into what sounds a little like Black Metal for a few bars. That sounds chaotic, but I do not think it is. There is purpose here in the mind of the composer even if it is not apparent to the receiver.

The second track is rather discordant, while the third, “Abnegations,” follows a more linear path. The percussion is raucous, as are the vocals, and there is a surprisingly straight-forward lead break about a third of the way through that third track … then entropy. And more entropy across the entire set.

You could put a number of different labels on separate parts of this music but it is difficult to describe overall. Avant-garde, sure, but that doesn’t really tell you much. The music is definitely radical. It might make sense to some listeners – maybe there are those who can put the pieces together in their head into some sort of recognizable whole. For me, I think of it more as an experience I had rather than something I can explain. If you are up for a challenge, give Diskord an ear.

Degenerations is out on Friday, August 13th through Transcending Obscurity. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diskordband.bandcamp.com/album/degenerations-dissonant-technical-death-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DiskordNorway

Diskord website, https://diskord.net/news

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Old Grandad, Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP (Hectic Records 2021)

Grooving stoner grunge from Old Grandad gets a re-issue.

San Francisco in 1994 is when the band came together. According to the story, “Will Carroll, Erik Moggridge, and Max Barnett created a thrash/death metal-flavored, Sabbath-inspired, Satanic-Floydian, groove-guzzling giant.” That is quite a confluence of influences and when you listen to the music on this re-issue you definitely hear them all.

In addition to the albums in question, Old Grandad produced The Last Upper in 1999 and Hocus Corpus in 2005. After that they were quiet on the recording front until 2019 when a new self-titled album came out. It is great to look back now with this new version of the early work and have a chance to take it all in.

The two albums included here are the first full-length Hectic Records release from 1995 and the 1997 EP. I hadn’t listened to Old Grandad very closely until I put this one on a couple times. It is a fascinating combination of those aforementioned elements, along with a considerable amount of screaming. The guitars are fuzzy, the rhythm is steady, and psychedelia abounds.

It is hard to take the themes seriously with song titles like “The Highs That Bind,” “Blatant Drug Song,” and “Don’t Call Me A Deadhead,” so instead settle in for a good time. I can’t say first-hand whether this music is an artifact of the time and place it was created in and therefore represents the circles Old Grandad moved in back in the day. I bet it does, though, and anyway we can all listen to it now no matter what. Recommended.

This re-issue of Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP is out now through Hectic Records. Bandcamp is the place to go.

Band photo by Lori Higbey.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hecticrecords.bandcamp.com/releases

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/oldgrandadsf/

Hectic Records, https://www.hectic.com/

Old Grandad, Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP (Hectic Records 2021)

At The Gates, The Nightmare Of Being (Century Media 2021)

The seventh studio album from At The Gates is a progressive take on the condition of existence.

For more than thirty years the Melodic Death Metal band from Sweden, At The Gates, has been a consistent creator of heavy music. From The Red in the Sky Is Ours (1994) to 2018’s To Drink from the Night Itself, you could always count on them for compelling new metal that rang out in ways you’d never heard before. And here we see that again on the new album, The Nightmare Of Being.

The band – Tomas Lindberg (vocals), Martin Larsson (guitar), Jonas Björler (bass), Adrian Erlandsson (drums), and Jonas Stålhammar (guitar) – expertly executes an expanded palette of composition that embraces progressive metal elements more extensively than fans might have anticipated. An outlying example is “Garden of Cyrus” which features a saxophone – not an instrument you hear on a lot of death metal albums, but one that fits perfectly in this song, complementing gruff vocals and lyrical guitars. Still, it was a surprise to hear it

Not every song is an oddity. Long-time fans and newcomers looking for heavy, crushing metal are going to find it here, too. In most cases, the songs have more than one movement that is reached through effluence or stark shift, each standing in seeming, if not actual, juxtaposition to its neighboring fellows. The complexity of the music is one of its most attractive features.

The new album does sound different in many ways compared to early work of the band. For me it is a fitting addition to the canon of At The Gates and it is a strong sign of the continuing vibrancy of the musicians. Recommended.

The Nightmare Of Being is out now from Century Media in a plethora of versions. You can get it all over.

Links.

Website, http://atthegates.se/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AtTheGatesOfficial

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=729

At The Gates, The Nightmare Of Being (Century Media 2021)

Yawning Man, Rock Formations (Ripple Music 2021)

The classic album from Yawning Man, Rock Formations, gets a re-release through Ripple Music.

Originally unleashed in 2005 by Alone Records, Rock Formations has become a reference point for music with psychedelic desert vibes. The musicians are Gary Arce (guitar), Alfredo Hernandez (drums), and Mario Lalli (bass), and they created something that was immediately admired by both fans and peers.

Spacey desert surf music is what you can expect, heavy on all those attributes. That’s on every song. Each one has its own particular memorable inflection and direction. You can’t forget the opener, “Rock Formations,” because it gets at you first with its beguiling ways. “Perpetual Oyster” has compelling and engaging percussion that stands out, and then “Stoney Lonesome” is an unforgettable melancholy whisper. 

“Advanced Darknuss” has a very sinister construction, despite the title. It does not instill dread, but it definitely creates a mood. I could say the same thing about “She Scares Me” but I would mean something very different. That song puts me in mind of a David Lynch movie. For a complete switch in mood, try “Buffalo Chips,” which makes me feel like I am in a 1960s western being filmed in Spain. 

This instrumental music is sometimes haunting, sometimes quirky, and at other times it sparks nostalgia in you on an individual level. This album is groundbreaking, and it will be considered a classic whenever enough time passes for that label to kick in — I wouldn’t feel bad about calling it that already. If you haven’t heard it yet, this new incarnation is an excellent opportunity. Recommended.

Rock Formations is out now in digital and vinyl and can be had through Bandcamp or Ripple Music’s site.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/rock-formations

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/yawningmanofficial

Yawning Man website, http://yawningman.com/

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Yawning Man, Rock Formations (Ripple Music 2021)

Despise You, West Side Horizons (Tankcrimes 2021)

Tankcrimes issues West Side Horizons, a massive compilation from Inglewood power violence band Despise You.

Founded by Phil Vera and Chris Elder in 1994, Despise You had a major impact on the hard music scene. Lasting only a couple of years, the band released a slew of split 7s and compilations featuring their brand of aggression and anger operationalized in musical expression.

This collection is vast, including songs from splits with Crom, Supression, Scapegoat, and Stapled Shut, plus cuts from compilations and sixteen previously unreleased tracks. All of this music was recorded between 1994-1996 and bits and pieces are floating around out there in the ether. Having it all together in one tight package is boon to fans and collectors.

If you haven’t heard Despise You before then get ready for shrieking anger and spinning kicks. Only twelve of the sixty two tracks are over one minute long so listening to all of them in a row is a shock to the system. It is a shock worth taking.

I could do a track-by-track on this but it is better if you just listen to it – it is quicker to listen to some of them than to read a description of them. Hit up the first track, “Culpa Mia,” and see if it is for you. Then go from there. Brutal percussion and rhythm, screaming, shrieking, belligerence, and bad attitudes. That’s what you will find. My favorite song is “Puppet.” So there. Recommended.

The drop date for this big set is Friday, August 6th from Tankcrimes. There are CD and LP versions.

Photo by Anthony Mehlhaff.

Links.

CD, https://tankcrimes.merchtable.com/tankcrimes-music/cd/despise-you-west-side-horizons-cd/

Vinyl, https://tankcrimes.merchtable.com/tankcrimes-music/vinyl/despise-you-west-side-horizons-vinyl-lp

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/despiseyoulosangeles/

Despise You shop, https://despiseyou.bigcartel.com/

Tankcrimes Records, http://www.tankcrimes.com/

Despise You, West Side Horizons (Tankcrimes 2021)

Pray U Prey, The Omega Kill (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

The Omega Kill is the sophomore album from British hardcore Death Metal band Pray U Prey.

Pray U Prey formed in 2014, producing an EP almost immediately and their debut long-player, Figure The 8, three years later. You could hang a lot of labels on their music – hardcore, punk, crust, grindcore, death metal – but what you need to know is it’s loud, fast, and outrageous. The band is Shrew (vocals), Simon G (guitar), Colin (drums), and Shrub (bass).

There are twelve songs on the new album, every one of them a hammer to the head. “Earth Roulette Wheel” opens with a sweet capture from an old movie about the generosity of man and the plenty of nature that is quickly trampled under the relentless battering of the band’s instruments and the craggy growling of Shrew. “Hidden in Plain Sight” is next and it skips the intro, choosing instead to drop 65 seconds calamitous thrubbing onto your personal space. There is no time to take a breath before “Life Without Reflection” – my favorite from the set – pushes your face in the dirt.

With the shortest pieces, it is a straight-through clacking sprint to the end. When the song goes on a little longer, there is a pace change and shift in riff structure, usually. On songs with slower movements like “Active Suppression” and “Living Library,” the music focuses on doomy ideas in between the flailing and thrashing. So there is a lot of different ideas bandied about on the album. Through it all, aggression and persistent presentations of adrenaline are the mainstays. This one definitely inflames. Recommended.

The Omega Kill is available on Friday, August 6th through Selfmadegod Records. You can snap it up on CD or digital at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://selfmadegod.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/PrayUPrey

Selfmadegod Records, https://selfmadegod.com/

Pray U Prey, The Omega Kill (Selfmadegod Records 2021)